#PBL Zone – The 1to1

It’s been quite a ride these last three months – didn’t do much on the blog, or nothing more like, decided instead to focus on 1) the students and our combined efforts to take learning forward and 2) a lot on myself (but that’s a different story and post altogether).


I’ve always been a huge fan of projects, the ideas and series of activities that take whole classes out on magic rides and paths of discovery. I’ve also always wondered whether a project could work equally well for 1-to-1 courses. In theory, a private course is much easier to plan and handle than a school course; there’s one person there to work with, needs-assessment is easy, you can take personalized learning to another level and, as an extra teacher perk, you can build and work on your own material. The one issue to tackle: there’s only one person there to work with. Through the years, working in classes with varied numbers of students and implementing projects either as extension to the course or full project-based courses (not many of them sadly and I could never accept why most Directors were so reluctant to agree to them) , the common denominator of success has always been interaction. Peer learning was what brought hidden talents to surface and assisted skills building. A 1-to-1 course lacks that obviously, so I’ve held back from suggesting PBL to private students. This year though, I reconsidered the options and as students I’ve had for almost six years now have reached the point where they don’t really need me anymore, apart from when it comes to exam preparation, I thought it was time we took things further and worked on what they now want and need to put their efforts in.

While in the past we used at least some ready-made material, a coursebook here and a grammar book there, this September, me and three of my kids set off on a different journey: exploring our interests and how they shape our learning generally and learning English more specifically.
Three students, three projects. Literature, Music and Dancing. We brainstormed, we planned, we’ve been editing and shaping. We’ve been busy and happy. We’ve been learning; not from scratch, but from within. I’ve been keeping my notes and they’ve been reflecting on their efforts. Sample? Sure. Here’s Nick’s Tumblr. More to follow from all of them.

The whole universe can come into a private course and in all sorts of ways. To get that peer input, we went with assessment. All three students have been reviewing each others’ work, making suggestions, providing feedback. We’re moving forward hand-in-hand.

As all three projects are still ongoing, I’ll be posting updates and results along the way. And to close this first post on their wonderful work and our amazing time together, I’d just like to say I’m immensely proud of my kids and finally quite comfortable to sit aside, watch and assist them while they find their own way in learning.

And here we are…






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